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Feb 13, 2024

Islands of Insight Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $29.99
We Recommend: $29.99
  • Developer: Lunarch Studios
  • Publisher: Behaviour Interactive Inc.
  • Genre: Adventure, Indie, Massively Multiplayer
  • Released: Feb 13, 2024
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

Lunarch Studios has been making games for a while now, but nothing comes close to what they’ve done with Islands of Insight. It’s seriously impressive, and already one of the best games I’ve played this year. Imagine taking the beautiful puzzle worlds of The Talos Principle 2 and The Witness, and you have this game. With an astounding 10,000 puzzles to solve in the game, which is quite the claim, but lives up to it. It’s a seemingly never-ending series of puzzles to solve, and this “shared open-world world puzzle game” is simply marvelous. Islands of Insight embraces the sublime, and is all about the journey, one that I never want to end.

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Islands of Insight thrusts you into the bizarre and gorgeous world with just enough story to get you interested, but it’s the gameplay that will get you hooked and keep you for however many hours it takes you. You’ll learn that the worlds lie dormant, and must be awakened in order to proceed. Five floating islands await you, each with its own theme and series of puzzles. It’s a world that’s begging to be explored, and to do so there’s no fall damage or even death. If you happen to fall off its floating islands, you’ll be reset to the nearest safe spot. The developers take this even further by giving you the power of flight within the first hour of playing, allowing you to float and soar through its environments, without a hint of hindrance. It’s bold and empowering.

There are 24 puzzle types, each with their own mastery that levels up simply by completing puzzles of that type. You’ll experience puzzles that have a match three components that increase in complexity, requiring a specific order. Then you have to utilize squares of various colors and numbers and they can’t touch, mirror puzzles, collectibles like hidden orbs, and more. The sheer density of the worlds and amount of puzzles is truly staggering. But there’s never a moment where I don’t feel empowered to beat a puzzle. I certainly got stuck on puzzles, but I’d either figure it out or come back to them later.

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Islands of Insight has five difficulties that puzzles can come in, ranging from one to five. If at any point you are well and truly stuck, you can use the in-game hint system called “foresight”. It comes with three charges, and after all have been used, will further recharge but over time. It’s a simple yet effective mechanic. It’s clear that Lunarch Studios wants you to solve the puzzles yourself, and even the hints only nudge you in the right direction, never an outright solve.

The map found in-game allows you to set waypoints, see where other players are, and even fast-travel later on. It’s a great way to keep track of where you are, and where you want to go. There’s even a ping system that I didn’t even use in multiplayer. It was just a way for me to know if there was a puzzle I wanted to return to, or place I was getting stuck.

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Rather seamlessly, you can play the game in co-op in real-time through the in-game party system. You can play together to help each other solve puzzles, or simply showcase something cool you’ve found or done. Islands of Insight concerns me in one area though, the game has servers you connect to. In this, progress is saved server-side, not locally. During the review period, the servers wiped prior to release, and I had to work my way to where I left off, which in some cases was hard to do. For a game this big, this expansive, I would want to have a local save file or a way to play offline at some point.

One of my favorite non-puzzle collectibles are called wandering echoes, which cat like the renegade orbs from Crackdown 2 , but are thankfully far less malicious. There are also hidden archways and cubes you can find, and it’s just so cool stumbling upon them. What results is a desire to find them all in a given area, or at least until you’re satisfied. Every puzzle and challenge is a new carrot on the stick to chase, and it’s always so satisfying.

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As you complete puzzles, you’ll be earning experience that turns into new levels. It’s here you can upgrade your character that adds new tools or mechanics from things as simple as double-jumping to earning more currency upon completing certain puzzle types to being able to warp to waypoints you set. Again, Islands of Insight is not about hindering you, but rather setting you free.

The game introduces Masteries as a way of showcasing your favorite puzzle types, or ones that you mesh well with. You’ll be able to see your rank and level across all types like Crystal Labyrinths, Logic Grids, Sentinel Stones, Matchboxes, and more. There’s so many other secrets and details tucked away in there, you might accidentally dismiss something you should absolutely revisit.

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Normally a codex or encyclopedia in a game is just another way to learn the lore and mechanics that you may never dive into. Islands of Insight however, has what I find to be a critical encyclopedia. It is an ever-present way to ensure you learn how each puzzle type works.

There’s lots of customization in the game, from making your character to add-ons like clothing and special effects. A great majority of these can be unlocked through mastery and earned points simply by solving puzzles. I can’t wait to see the types of things the game gets over time. Since the game can be played from both the first or third-person perspective, and both feel great. And it’s a great way to appreciate your customizations through the third-person lens.

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There’s not a lot to say about Islands of Insight , it’s an absolutely stunning game that’s a celestial wonderland to explore. It has a bevy of graphical options to include super-sampling options like FSR and DLSS, and allows you to customize every detail to your liking, even FOV settings for both first and third-person. I had absolutely no issues running this game, and it’s gorgeous at every turn.

My PC Specs:

– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 13900K @ 5.8GHz
– ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
– WD_BLACK SN850X M.2 (4 TB)
– LG UltraGear 34GP950B-G (21:9 Ultrawide @ 3440×1440)

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At no point was I rushed or pushed towards a linear path. Islands of Insight respects your time, and ensures that you take your time. The way puzzles are introduced feel organic, and it has its own way of ramping of difficulty in each area. So that when you reach even the third or fourth island, you’re still starting fresh, and not dealing with near impossible puzzles. Lunarch Studios have made something special here, and being able to do that in a shared open-world with others is a delight. Islands of Insight is joyful, peaceful, and a relaxing experience that’s absolutely worth it.

A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes